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Monday, March 11, 2013

Kids’ Books

Right after I finished reading Pirate Cinema, the United States Congress passed the six strikes law to take people off the internet. I guess they hadn't read the book. 

I was looking for some reviews of the book because I wanted more context about the story. Good criticism is supposed to either explain more fully or supply context.

I read one derogatory post about Cory Doctorow’s books for children. Apparently that disappointed the reviewer, who wasn’t as concerned about what Cory had written as about what Cory should have written. That’s like taking a downwind position in a urinary olympiad against Wikipedia.

That review reminded me of a derogatory review about John Varley’s Red Thunder a couple of years ago, where that critic dismissively thought kids’ books were lightweight.

I remember Red Thunder as a potboiler adventure story, full of true love and high adventure. I also remember that the two kids had graduated high school in Florida and found out they hadn’t been taught anything that would allow them to make a living.

I remember they were cleaning hotel rooms around Cape Canaveral to satisfy their food addiction, and had built two laptops that would enable them to attend Internet University.

That sounded like truth to me, since I graduated high school and then college without learning much that was valuable.

One of my classmates wrote, “When I look back on all the crap I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I can think at all.”

I needed the reinforcement I read in that book that two people learning together often work better than one learning at IU. Jack and I are constantly feeding what we learn to each other, and piles of facts often lead to more highly developed ideas. Apparently that had slipped past the reviewer.

A third thing I liked about Red Thunder was how a couple of fellow members of the IU student body were blending life, high adventure, and education. Gave us a model we have slavishly imitated.

If you’re going to get a grip on the future, kids’ books like Cory Doctorow’s Pirate Cinema, Little Brother, and John Varley’s Red Thunder, and Orson Scott Card’s Magic Street are instructive. Kids are the ones inventing the future.

I remember when I started reading Makers. Some of the my fellow IU students, Seth Godin and John Battelle recommended it. I started reading thinking, “Oh, this is a near future business fantasy.”

I got 50 pages in and realized this stuff was happening right then! What was different was the author’s perspective reporting the facts. Fantastical? Farfetched? No more than this morning’s 6 am news.

RainmakersCompetitive advantage five minutes at a time.
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